Liquid Penetrant Testing

Liquid penetrant testing is one of the oldest and simplest NDT methods where its earliest versions (using kerosene and oil mixture) dates back to the 19th century. This method is used to reveal surface discontinuities by bleedout of a colored or fluorescent dye from the flaw. The technique is based on the ability of a liquid to be drawn into a "clean" surface discontinuity by capillary action. After a period of time called the "dwell time", excess surface penetrant is removed and a developer applied. This acts as a blotter that draws the penetrant from the discontinuity to reveal its presence. The advantage that a liquid penetrant inspection offers over an unaided visual inspection is that it makes defects easier to see for the inspector where that is done in two ways:  It produces a flaw indication that is much larger and easier for the eye to detect than the flaw itself. Many flaws are so small or narrow that they are undetectable by the unaided eye (a person with a perfect vision can not resolve features smaller than 0.08 mm).  It improves the detectability of a flaw due to the high level of contrast between the indication and the background which helps to make the indication more easily seen (such as a red indication on a white background for visable penetrant or a penetrant that glows under ultraviolate light for flourecent penetrant).

Liquid penetrant testing is one of the most widely used NDT methods. Its popularity can be attributed to two main factors: its relative ease of use and its flexibility. It can be used to inspect almost any material provided that its surface is not extremely rough or porous. Materials that are commonly inspected using this method include; metals, glass, many ceramic materials, rubber and plastics. However, liquid penetrant testing can only be used to inspect for flaws that break the surface of the sample (such as surface cracks, porosity, laps, seams, lack of fusion, etc.).

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Steps of Liquid Penetrant Testing
The exact procedure for liquid penetrant testing can vary from case to case depending on several factors such as the penetrant system being used, the size and material of the component being inspected, the type of discontinuities being expected in the component and the condition and environment under which the inspection is performed. However, the general steps can be summarized as follows: 1. Surface Preparation: One of the most critical steps of a liquid penetrant testing is the surface preparation. The surface must be free of oil, grease, water, or other contaminants that may prevent penetrant from entering flaws. The sample may also require etching if mechanical operations such as machining, sanding, or grit blasting have been performed. These and other mechanical operations can smear metal over the flaw opening and prevent the penetrant from entering. 2. Penetrant Application: Once the surface has been thoroughly cleaned and dried, the penetrant material is applied by spraying, brushing, or immersing the part in a penetrant bath. 3. Penetrant Dwell: The penetrant is left on the surface for a sufficient time to allow as much penetrant as possible to be drawn or to seep into a defect. Penetrant dwell time is the total time that the penetrant is in contact with the part surface. Dwell times are usually recommended by the penetrant producers or required by the specification being followed. The times vary depending on the application, penetrant materials used, the material, the form of the material being inspected, and the type of discontinuity being inspected for. Minimum dwell times typically range from 5 to 60 minutes. Generally, there is no harm in using a longer penetrant dwell time as long as the penetrant is not allowed to dry. The ideal dwell time is often determined by experimentation and may be very specific to a particular application. 4. Excess Penetrant Removal: This is the most delicate step of the inspection procedure because the excess penetrant must be removed from the surface of the sample while removing as little penetrant as possible from defects.
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dipping. or spraying (wet developers).  Few material limitations (metallic and nonmetallic. Advantages and Disadvantages The primary advantages and disadvantages when compared to other NDT methods are: Advantages  High sensitivity (small discontinuities can be detected). 8. Developers come in a variety of forms that may be applied by dusting (dry powders). and conductive and nonconductive materials may be inspected). Inspection: Inspection is then performed under appropriate lighting to detect indications from any flaws which may be present. Significantly longer times may be necessary for tight cracks. magnetic and nonmagnetic. Clean Surface: The final step in the process is to thoroughly clean the part surface to remove the developer from the parts that were found to be acceptable. or first treating the part with an emulsifier and then rinsing with water. 7.Depending on the penetrant system used. this step may involve cleaning with a solvent. 5. direct rinsing with water. Developer Application: A thin layer of developer is then applied to the sample to draw penetrant trapped in flaws back to the surface where it will be visible. 6. Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing Techniques Liquid Penetrant Testing Page 3 of 20 . This development time is usually a minimum of 10 minutes. Indication Development: The developer is allowed to stand on the part surface for a period of time sufficient to permit the extraction of the trapped penetrant out of any surface flaws.

Pre-cleaning is critical since contaminants can mask defects. Chemical handling and proper disposal is required. Penetrant materials are not designed to perform the same. Only materials with a relatively nonporous surface can be inspected.  Indications are produced directly on the surface of the part and constitute a visual representation of the flaw. and grit or vapor blasting must be removed. Penetrants Penetrants are carefully formulated to produce the level of sensitivity desired by the inspector. .  Suitable for parts with complex shapes. Surface finish and roughness can affect inspection sensitivity. .not be harmful to the material being tested or the drawn into surface breaking defects by capillary action. Penetrant manufactures have developed different formulations to address a variety of inspection applications. Some applications call for the detection of the smallest defects possible while in other Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing Techniques Liquid Penetrant Testing Page 4 of 20 .remain fluid so it can be drawn back to the surface of the part through the drying and developing steps. The penetrant must possess a number of important characteristics: . The inspector must have direct access to the surface being inspected. Metal smearing from machining. Multiple process operations must be performed and controlled. Rapid inspection of large areas and volumes. .spread easily over the surface of the material being inspected to provide complete and even coverage. .be highly visible or fluoresce brightly to produce easy to see indications.remain in the defect but remove easily from the surface of the part. Post cleaning of acceptable parts or materials is required. . grinding.  Portable (materials are available in aerosol spray cans)  Low cost (materials and associated equipment are relatively inexpensive) Disadvantages          Only surface breaking defects can be detected.

Post-Emulsifiable. visible penetrants do not require a darkened area and an ultraviolet light in order to make an inspection. Method C .  Penetrant materials come in two basic types: Type 1 . Hydrophilic: they use an emulsifier that is a water soluble detergent which lifts the excess penetrant from the surface of the part with a water wash. Water washable penetrants are sometimes referred to as self-emulsifying systems. Type 2 . The penetrants that are used to detect the smallest defects will also produce the largest amount of irrelevant indications. the rejectable defect size may be larger. Lipophilic: the penetrant is oil soluble and interacts with the oil-based emulsifier to make removal possible. Method B .Fluorescent Penetrants: they contain a dye or several dyes that fluoresce when exposed to ultraviolet radiation. However. Standard specifications classify penetrant materials according to their physical characteristics and their performance. Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing Techniques Liquid Penetrant Testing Page 5 of 20 .applications.  Penetrants are then classified by the method used to remove the excess penetrant from the part. These penetrants contain an emulsifying agent (detergent) that makes it possible to wash the penetrant from the part surface with water alone.Post-Emulsifiable.Water Washable: penetrants can be removed from the part by rinsing with water alone. Method D .Solvent Removable: they require the use of a solvent to remove the penetrant from the part. The four methods are: Method A .Visible Penetrants: they contain a red dye that provides high contrast against the white developer background. Fluorescent penetrant systems are more sensitive than visible penetrant systems because the eye is drawn to the glow of the fluorescing indication.

Special Applications Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing Techniques Liquid Penetrant Testing Page 6 of 20 . The five sensitivity levels are: Level ½ . developers are classified based on the method that the developer is applied (as a dry powder. allowing more of it to interact with the penetrant. The six standard forms of developers are: Form a . According to standards. Developers The role of the developer is to pull the trapped penetrant material out of defects and spread it out on the surface of the part so it can be seen by an inspector.Nonaqueous Type 1: Fluorescent (Solvent Based) Form e .Ultra Low Sensitivity Level 1 . or dissolved or suspended in a liquid carrier).Ultra-High Sensitivity The procedure for classifying penetrants into one of the five sensitivity levels uses specimens with small surface fatigue cracks. On the other hand. Developers used with visible penetrants create a white background so there is a greater degree of contrast between the indication and the surrounding background. The brightness of the indication produced is measured using a photometer.High Sensitivity Level 4 .Medium Sensitivity Level 3 .Water Suspendable Form d . causing more efficient fluorescence.Water Soluble Form c .Low Sensitivity Level 2 . Penetrants are then classified based on the strength or detectability of the indication that is produced for a number of very small and tight fatigue cracks.Nonaqueous Type 2: Visible Dye (Solvent Based) Form f . developers used with fluorescent penetrants both reflect and refract the incident ultraviolet light.Dry Powder Form b .

pouring. light white coating over the entire surface. Nonaqueous Nonaqueous developers suspend the developer in a volatile solvent and are typically applied with a spray gun. Water suspendable developers require frequent stirring or agitation to keep the particles from settling out of suspension. Drying is achieved by placing the wet. Water Suspendable Water suspendable developers consist of insoluble developer particles suspended in water.Dry Powder Dry powder developers are generally considered to be the least sensitive but they are inexpensive to use and easy to apply. Nonaqueous developers are commonly distributed in aerosol spray cans for portability. or brushing the solution on to the surface is sometimes used but these methods are less desirable. The solvent tends to pull penetrant from the indications by solvent action. or placing parts in a dust cabinet where the developer is blown around. water soluble developers consist of a group of chemicals that are dissolved in water and form a developer layer when the water is evaporated away. Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing Techniques Liquid Penetrant Testing Page 7 of 20 . Since the solvent is highly volatile. Since the powder only sticks to areas of indications since they are wet. in a recirculating warm air dryer with a temperature of 21°C. by dipping parts in a container of developer. Dipping. but well drained part. Water Soluble As the name implies. Properly developed parts will have an even. by using a puffer to dust parts with the developer. forced drying is not required. Water suspendable developers are applied to parts in the same manner as water soluble developers then the parts are dried using warm air. powder developers are seldom used for visible inspections. Dry developers are white. Special Applications Plastic or lacquer developers are special developers that are primarily used when a permanent record of the inspection is required. The best method for applying water soluble developers is by spraying it on the part. The part can be wet or dry. fluffy powders that can be applied to a thoroughly dry surface in a number of ways.

Penetrant Application and Dwell Time The penetrant material can be applied in a number of different ways. including spraying. varnishes. The time required to fill a flaw depends on a number of variables which include:       The surface tension of the penetrant. Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing Techniques Liquid Penetrant Testing Page 8 of 20 . Also. The atmospheric pressure at the flaw opening. it is possible that a thin layer of metal may have smeared across the surface and closed off defects. Dwell times are usually recommended by the penetrant producers or required by the specification being followed. If the parts have been machined. This layer of metal smearing must be removed before inspection. All coatings. The dynamic shear viscosity of the penetrant. or blasted prior to the penetrant inspection. The capillary pressure at the flaw opening. can cause metal smearing in softer materials.Immersion-dwell: keeping the part immersed in the penetrant during the dwell period. some cleaning operations. The contact angle of the penetrant. or immersing the parts in a penetrant bath.Drain-dwell: letting the part drain during the dwell period (this method gives better sensitivity). such as paints. The dwell time is important because it allows the penetrant the time necessary to seep or be drawn into a defect. brushing. There are basically two dwell mode options: . . and heavy oxides must be removed to ensure that defects are open to the surface of the part. Penetrant Dwell Time Penetrant dwell time is the total time that the penetrant is in contact with the part surface.Preparation of Part One of the most critical steps in the penetrant inspection process is preparing the part for inspection. such as steam cleaning. The pressure of the gas trapped in the flaw by the penetrant. sanded. Once the part is covered with penetrant it must be allowed to dwell so the penetrant has time to enter any defect that is present. plating.

 The radius of the flaw or the distance between the flaw walls. the flaw indication will be reduced by a proportional amount. penetrant systems are classified into four categories according to the method used for excess penetrant removal. the contrast between the indication and the background will be reduced. Hydrophilic Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing Techniques Liquid Penetrant Testing Page 9 of 20 . Lipophilic .  Microstructural properties of the penetrant.Method D: Post-Emulsifiable. The ideal dwell time is often determined by experimentation and is often very specific to a particular application.  The density or specific gravity of the penetrant. . If the removal process extracts penetrant from the flaw. Removal Method As mentioned previously. Penetrant Removal Process The penetrant removal procedure must effectively remove the penetrant from the surface of the part without removing an appreciable amount of entrapped penetrant from the discontinuity.Method A: Water-Washable .Method C: Solvent Removable . If the penetrant is not effectively removed from the part surface. the table shows the dwell time requirements for steel parts according to some of the commonly used specifications.Method B: Post-Emulsifiable. For example.

rinse to remove excess penetrant. dry part. therefore. If the emulsification time is too long. is used primarily for inspecting small localized areas. is the most economical to apply of the different methods and it is easy to use. and is. and 8. Controlling the reaction time is of essential importance when using a post-emulsifiable system. 5. pre-clean part. Rinse Method and Time for Water-Washable Penetrants The method used to rinse the excess penetrant from the object surface and the time of the rinse should be controlled so as to prevent over-washing. immersion wash tank be used. When removal of the penetrant from the defect due to over-washing of the part is a concern. The post-emulsifiable methods are generally only used when very high sensitivity is needed.Method C. leading to high background levels. too labor intensive for most production situations. Brushing the emulsifier on to the part is not recommended because the bristles of the brush may force emulsifier into discontinuities. Postemulsifiable penetrants require a separate emulsifier to breakdown the penetrant and make it water washable. making it possible to deplete the amount needed to form an indication. 7. pre-rinse to remove first layer of penetrant. The part is usually immersed in the emulsifier but hydrophilic emulsifiers may also be sprayed on the object. This method requires hand wiping the surface with a cloth moistened with the solvent remover. a post-emulsifiable penetrant system can be used. 4. If the emulsification time is too short. When a post-emulsifiable penetrant is used. apply developer and allow part to develop. causing the entrapped penetrant to be removed. it should be directed at a 45° angle to the part Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing Techniques Liquid Penetrant Testing Page 10 of 20 . Water-washable or self-emulsifiable penetrants contain an emulsifier as an integral part of the formulation. The emulsifier is allowed sufficient time to react with the penetrant on the surface of the part but not given time to make its way into defects to react with the trapped penetrant. 2. Solvent Removable. The hydrophilic post-emulsifiable method (Method D) is more sensitive than the lipophilic post-emulsifiable method (Method B). Method A. the penetrant inspection process includes the following steps (extra steps are underlined): 1. The excess penetrant may be removed from the object surface with a simple water rinse. 3. inspect. It is generally recommended that a coarse spray rinse or an air-agitated. When a spray is being used. 6. The major advantage of hydrophilic emulsifiers is that they are less sensitive to variation in the contact and removal time. an excessive amount of penetrant will be left on the surface. apply penetrant and allow to dwell. the emulsifier will react with the penetrant entrapped in discontinuities. apply hydrophilic emulsifier and allow contact for specified time. Water-Washable.

The spray or immersion time should be kept to a minimum through frequent inspections of the remaining background level. Nonaqueous developers are generally recognized as the most sensitive when properly applied. The relative sensitivities of developers and application techniques as ranked in Volume II of the Nondestructive Testing Handbook are shown in the table below. Wet Solvent Plastic Film Water-Soluble Water-Suspendable Water-Soluble Water-Suspendable Dry Dry Dry Dry Method of Application Spray Spray Spray Spray Immersion Immersion Dust Cloud (Electrostatic) Fluidized Bed Dust Cloud (Air Agitation) Immersion (Dip) Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing Techniques Liquid Penetrant Testing Page 11 of 20 . One dry pass followed by one damp pass is all that is recommended. Next. However. some of the entrapped penetrant will be removed and inspection sensitivity will be reduced. The output from a fluorescent penetrant is improved significantly when a suitable powder developer is used. care must also be taken to carefully remove the penetrant from the part surface while removing as little as possible from the flaw. defects can be masked. One dry pass in one direction is all that should be used to remove as much penetrant as possible. the use of developer can have a dramatic effect on the probability of detection of an inspection. Use and Selection of a Developer The use of developer is almost always recommended. lint-free. Ranking 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Developer Form Nonaqueous. The first step in this cleaning procedure is to dry wipe the surface of the part in one direction using a white. the surface should be wiped with one pass in one direction with a rag moistened with cleaner. but keep in mind that with every additional wipe. Hand Wiping of Solvent Removable Penetrants When a solvent removable penetrant is used. Also.surface so as to not force water directly into any discontinuities that may be present. if the thickness of the coating becomes too great. cotton rag. Additional wiping may sometimes be necessary.

The following table lists the main advantages and disadvantages of the various developer types. Developer Dry Advantages Indications tend to remain brighter and more distinct over time Easy to apply Soluble Ease of coating entire part White coating for good contrast can be produced which work well for both visible and fluorescent systems Suspendable Ease of coating entire part Indications are bright and sharp White coating for good contrast can be produced which work well for both visible and fluorescent systems Very portable Easy to apply to readily accessible surfaces White coating for good contrast can be produced which work well for both visible and fluorescent systems Indications show-up rapidly and are well defined Provides highest sensitivity Disadvantages Does not form contrast background so cannot be used with visible systems Difficult to assure entire part surface has been coated Coating is translucent and provides poor contrast (not recommended for visual systems) Indications for water washable systems are dim and blurred Indications weaken and become diffused after time Nonaqueous Difficult to apply evenly to all surfaces More difficult to clean part after inspection Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing Techniques Liquid Penetrant Testing Page 12 of 20 .

Penetrant Quality Control The quality of a penetrant inspection is highly dependent on the quality of the penetrant materials used. a sample of the fresh solution should be collected and stored as a standard for future comparison. Since the surface tension of most materials decrease as the temperature increases. such as AMS 2644. Raising the temperature beyond this level will significantly raise the speed of evaporation of penetrants causing them to dry out quickly. Regular checks must be performed to ensure that the material performance has not degraded. Of course. Deterioration of new penetrants primarily results from aging and contamination. Virtually all organic dyes deteriorate over time. When possible. resulting in a loss of color or fluorescent response. should be used. keep the materials in a closed container and protect from freezing and exposure to high heat. Penetrants that are in-use should be compared regularly to the standard specimen to detect any changes in properties or performance. so lowering the temperature will have a negative effect on the flow characteristics. there are quality control procedures for each of them. Of course. Temperature Control The temperature of the penetrant materials and the part being inspected can have an effect on the results. raising the temperature of the penetrant will increase the wetting of the surface and the capillary forces. but deterioration can be slowed with proper storage. Contamination can occur during storage and use. Many specifications allow testing in the range of 4 to 52°C. Only products meeting the requirements of an industry specification. Temperatures from 27 to 49°C are reported in the literature to produce optimal results. opaque glass or metal container. open tank systems are much more susceptible to contamination than are spray systems. Since several steps and materials are involved in the inspection process. The standard specimen should be stored in a sealed. the opposite is also true.Quality & Process Control Quality control of the penetrant inspection process is essential to get good and consistent results. When the penetrant is first received from the manufacturer. Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing Techniques Liquid Penetrant Testing Page 13 of 20 .

A coarse spray or an immersion wash tank with air agitation is often used. The only real quality control required in the dwell step of the process is to ensure that a minimum dwell time is reached. Hydrophilic Emulsifiers Hydrophilic emulsifiers have less tolerance for penetrant contamination. There is no harm in allowing a penetrant to dwell longer than the minimum time as long as the penetrant is not allowed to dry on the part. Standards require that lipophilic emulsifiers be capable of 20% penetrant contamination without a reduction in performance. Emulsifier Concentration and Contact Time The optimal emulsifier contact time is dependent on a number of variables that include the emulsifier used. the surface roughness of the part being inspected. and other factors. the mixture will not function effectively as a remover. as little as 1% (by volume) penetrant contamination can seriously affect the performance of an emulsifier. pressure and time are three parameters that are typically controlled in penetrant inspection process specification. Usually some experimentation is required to select the proper emulsifier contact time. The penetrant tolerance varies with emulsifier concentration and the type of contaminating penetrant. it should be replaced.Dwell Quality Control Dwell times are usually recommended by the penetrant producer or required by the specification being followed. Emulsifier Bath Quality Control Quality control of the emulsifier bath is important and it should be performed per the requirements of the applicable specification. the emulsifier concentration. When the spray method is used. Lipophilic Emulsifiers Lipophilic emulsifiers mix with penetrants but when the concentration of penetrant contamination in the emulsifier becomes too great. The temperature range of the water is Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing Techniques Liquid Penetrant Testing Page 14 of 20 . When the cleaning action of the emulsifier becomes less than that of new material. the water pressure is usually limited to 276 kPa. Wash Quality Control The wash temperature. In some cases.

excessive powder can be removed by gently blowing on the surface with air not exceeding 35 kPa. It should be similar to fresh powdered sugar and not granulated like powdered soap. The wash time should only be as long as necessary to decrease the background to an acceptable level. drying temperature should be kept to less than 71°C. Since the quality control requirements for each of the developer types is slightly different. Developers are either applied wet or dry. Wet Soluble/Suspendable Developer Wet soluble developer must be completely dissolved in the water and wet suspendable developer must be thoroughly mixed prior to application. highly porous. the drying time should be limited to the minimum length necessary to thoroughly dry the component being inspected. Developer Quality Control The function of the developer is very important in a penetrant inspection. Frequent visual checks of the part should be made to determine when the part has been adequately rinsed. a developer must adhere to the part surface and result in a uniform. After the development time.g. When using the developer.. a light coat is applied by immersing the test component or dusting the surface. highly porous layer with many paths for the penetrant to be moved due to capillary action. It should also be relatively free from specks of fluorescent penetrant material from previous inspection. Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing Techniques Liquid Penetrant Testing Page 15 of 20 . This check is performed by spreading a sample of the developer out and examining it under UV light. To prevent harming the penetrant material. Drying Process Quality Control The temperature used to dry parts after the application of an aqueous wet developer or prior to the application of a dry powder or a nonaqueous wet developer. but the desired end result is always a uniform. In order to accomplish its functions.usually specified as a wide range (e. Dry Powder Developer A dry powder developer should be checked daily to ensure that it is fluffy and not caked. The concentration of powder in the carrier solution must be controlled in these developers. must be controlled to prevent drying in the penetrant in the flaw. they will be covered individually. Also. 10 to 38°C). surface layer.

If the spray produces spatters or an uneven coating. Make sure the can is well shaken and apply a thin coating to a test article.The concentration should be checked at least weekly using a hydrometer to make sure it meets the manufacturer's specification. The spray developer should produce a fine. Lighting for Visible Dye Penetrant Inspections When using a visible penetrant. The developer should be applied under white light and should appear evenly transparent. These developers are applied by spraying. Inspections can be conducted using natural lighting or artificial lighting. Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing Techniques Liquid Penetrant Testing Page 16 of 20 . the lighting requirements are different for an inspection conducted using a visible dye penetrant than they are for an inspection conducted using a fluorescent dye penetrant. When using a fluorescent penetrant system. When applying a solvent suspendable developer. and examined for indications of contamination by fluorescent penetrant materials. the developer coating must be thick enough to provide a white contrasting background but not heavy enough to mask indications. Care should be taken to avoid a heavy accumulation of the developer solution in crevices and recesses. flowing or immersing the component. it is up to the inspector to control the thickness of the coating. the intensity of the white light is of principal importance. Lighting Quality Control Proper lighting is of great importance when visually inspecting a surface for a penetrant indication. However. Solvent Suspendable Solvent suspendable developers are typically supplied in sealed aerosol spray cans. To check for contamination. even coating on the surface of the part. the solution should be examined weekly using both white light and UV light. dried. Since the developer solution is in a sealed vessel. the can should be discarded. With a visible penetrant system. a very light coating should be used. Development Time Parts should be allowed to develop for a minimum of 10 minutes and no more than 2 hours before inspecting. Obviously. They should never be applied with a brush. direct check of the solution is not possible. Some specifications require that a clean aluminum panel be dipped in the developer. the way that the developer is dispensed must be monitored.

When checking black light intensity a reading of the white light produced by the black light may be required to verify white light is being removed by the filter. Visible light of wavelengths above 410nm interferes with contrast. Radiometers are Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing Techniques Liquid Penetrant Testing Page 17 of 20 . the sensing area should be clean and free of any materials that could reduce or obstruct light reaching the sensor.However. The light intensity is required to be 100 foot-candles (1076 lux) at the surface being inspected. Light levels of less than 2 foot-candles (22 lux) are required by most procedures. For UV lights used in component evaluations. When performing a fluorescent penetrant inspection. The source of ultraviolet light is often a mercury arc lamp with a filter. Artificial lighting should be white whenever possible (halogen lamps are most commonly used). Light Measurement Light intensity measurements are made using a radiometer (an instrument that transfers light energy into an electrical current). the normally accepted intensity is 1000 µW/cm2 at 38cm distance from the filter face. Whichever type is used. it is important to keep white light to a minimum as it will significantly reduce the inspector’s ability to detect fluorescent indications. or every eight hours of continuous use. Since fluorescent brightness is linear with respect to ultraviolet excitation. Standards and procedures require verification of filter condition and light intensity. at startup of the inspection cycle. if a change in intensity is noticed. The required check should be performed when a new bulb is installed. and UV emissions below 310nm include some hazardous wavelengths. while others require a separate sensor for each measurement. The black light filter should be clean and the light should never be used with a cracked filter. Most UV light must be warmed up prior to use and should be on for at least 15 minutes before beginning an inspection. a change in the intensity of the light (from age or damage) and a change in the distance of the light source from the surface being inspected will have a direct impact on the inspection. Lighting for Fluorescent Penetrant Inspections Fluorescent penetrant dyes are excited by UV light of 365nm wavelength and emit visible light somewhere in the green-yellow range between 520 and 580nm. Some radiometers have the ability to measure both black and white light. since natural daylight changes from time to time. The lamps emit many wavelengths and a filter is used to remove all but the UV and a small amount of visible light between 310 and 410nm. the use of artificial lighting is recommended to get better uniformity.

They should be cleaned thoroughly between uses and storage in a solvent is generally recommended. System performance checks involve processing a test specimen with known defects to determine if the process will reveal discontinuities of the size required. Before processing a specimen. results are directly dependent on the skill of the operator and. These panels are usually made of stainless steel that has been chrome plated on one half and surfaced finished on the other half to produce the desired roughness. at the reactivation of a system after maintenance or repairs. There are five impacted areas with a range of different crack sizes corresponding to the five levels of sensitivity. they should be calibrated at least every six months. As with penetrant inspections in general. The specimen must be processed following the same procedure used to process production parts. The most commonly used test specimen is the TAM or PSM panel which is used for fluorescent penetrant systems. or any time the system is suspected of being out of control. Sensitivity is defined as the smallest defect that can be detected with a high degree of reliability. Nature of the Defect The nature of the defect can have a large effect on sensitivity of a liquid penetrant inspection. Typically. therefore. The ideal specimen is a production item that has natural defects of the minimum acceptable size. Specimens should be handled carefully to avoid damage. System Performance Check A system performance check is typically required daily. the crack length at the sample surface is used to define Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing Techniques Liquid Penetrant Testing Page 18 of 20 . The chrome plated section is impacted from the back side to produce a starburst set of cracks in the chrome. it should be inspected under UV light to make sure that it is clean and not already producing an indication. Therefore. Care of system performance check specimens is critical.relatively unstable instruments and readings often change considerable over time. There are some universal test specimens that can be used if a standard part is not available. each operator should process a test specimen.

the crack length alone does not determine whether a flaw will be seen or go undetected. Flaws under tensile or no loading than flaws under compression loading. However.size of the defect. In general. Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing Techniques Liquid Penetrant Testing Page 19 of 20 . Flaws with a narrow opening at the surface than wide open flaws. The figure shows an example of fluorescent penetrant inspection probability of detection (POD) curve as a function of crack length. Flaws on smooth surfaces than on rough surfaces. The volume of the defect is likely to be the more important feature. Flaws with rough fracture surfaces than smooth fracture surfaces. Deeper flaws than shallow flaws. The flaw must be of sufficient volume so that enough penetrant will bleed back out to a size that is detectable by the eye or that will satisfy the dimensional thresholds of fluorescence. penetrant testing is more effective at finding:       Small round defects than small linear defects.

Eye protection should always be worn to prevent contact of the chemicals with the eyes.Health and Safety Precautions When proper health and safety precautions are followed. therefore. ical processes to occur in the body. UV lamps sold for use in penetrant testing are almost always filtered to remove the harmful UV wavelengths. Ultraviolet Light Safety Ultraviolet (UV) light has wavelengths ranging from 180 to 400 nanometers. Some of the penetrant materials are flammable and. The lamps produce radiation at the harmful wavelengths so it is essential that they be used with the proper filter in place and in good condition. Before working with a chemical of any kind. should be used and stored in small quantities. liquid penetrant inspection operations can be completed without harm to inspection personnel. too much exposure can be harmful to the skin and eyes. However. certain precautions must be taken. There is usually no pain associated with the injury until several hours after the exposure. there is a number of health and safety related issues that need to be taken in consideration. The greatest threat with UV light exposure is that the individual is generally unaware that the damage is occurring. Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing Techniques Liquid Penetrant Testing Page 20 of 20 . The most common of those are discussed here. These wavelengths place UV light in the invisible part of the electromagnetic spectrum between visible light and X-rays. Gloves and other protective clothing should be worn to limit contact with the chemicals. They should only be used in a well ventilated area and ignition sources avoided. Therefore. However. Skin and eye damage occurs at wavelengths around 320 nm and shorter which is well below the 365 nm wavelength. Chemical Safety Whenever chemicals must be handled. where penetrants are designed to fluoresce. it is highly recommended that the material safety data sheets (MSDS) be reviewed so that proper chemical safety and hygiene practices can be followed. The most familiar source of UV radiation is the sun and is necessary in small doses for certain chem.

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